Lifetap Volume 1, Issue 10 – Feasts, Famine, and the Fall Video Game Release Lineup
Marketing and industry analyst types would have you believe that there are optimal windows of time to release video games in a given year. Some of this is based on market trends from previous years, combined with conditional factors specific to a given target audience. As the gaming industry has grown and eclipsed previously dominant entertainment mediums, this has also translated into the current Feast or Famine flow of major triple-A game releases we currently have.
For some, the arrival of autumn is hallmarked by a shift in temperature, shorter days, and the leaves of deciduous trees beginning to change color. I live in an area where autumn is not-so-lovingly referred to as “second summer” so only the shorter daylight thing really applies. So for me, autumn is denoted by one of those major feast periods when there are too many new games to play, and not enough hours in a day to play them all.
It seems like indie studios are also jumping on this bandwagon, rather than capitalizing on the low-to-no release periods for the big publishers. While there does tend to be a steady flow of worthwhile indie titles throughout the year, PAX East and Prime have also helped dictate the flow of indie titles hitting the marketplace. While the big publishers can afford to begin hyping new titles and franchises years in advance during major industry events, most independent studios can only afford to budget for that one initial marketing push, usually at the PAX closest to the intended launch window.
Above: Edvard Munch's depiction of the gaming industry draining the wallets of gamers each autumn
Either way, we’re creeping right back up on that time of year when there are too many major game releases, and not nearly enough time to keep up with all of them.
Last week, Bungie and its publishing overlords took a gamble by getting out in front of the fall release frenzy with Destiny. The gamble here is that the game will hook players strongly enough that they’re not so easily distracted by new titles dropping over the next two months. They’ve made a nice chunk of change in the meantime by not forcing gamers into a position of which major shooter to pick up by coming out of the gates before the competition. Still, for Destiny to become an actual franchise it needs to have longevity, so it will be interesting to watch multiplayer retention later into the season when there’s more competition.
Meanwhile, Trion is also making its own, somewhat less risky gamble by releasing ArcheAge one week after the biggest game release of the year. In Trion's case, however, this launch window should play well in its favor considering ArcheAge and Destiny will no doubt appeal to very different demographics.
New Model No. 15
That about wraps things up for this issue of Lifetap, but be sure to tune in tomorrow as I push to make the jump to turning this thing into a daily, rather than semi-weekly, column. This is also a golden opportunity for you to jump down to the comments and let me know what you’d want to see in a worthwhile daily MMO column. More scratch-n-sniff segments, perhaps? Whatever it is, let me know and I’ll see about injecting it into the magic formula I’ve been brewing up in my secret underground laboratory.